Wednesday, May 19, 2010

650ha of Rafflesia Kerrii clusters found in Kelantan

Yes, almost 6.5 sq km, this site is perhaps the largest colony of Rafflesia Kerrii. I've been there and at any time of your visit, you will see at least one flowering rafflesia. There are many tours from Cameron Highlands to this site. Exploitation by 4WD to this site has damaged the trail and causing hardship to the locals who ply the trail to the forest to gather forest's produce. Tour guides have been damaging large clumps of bamboo to demostrate the water retention capability of the bamboo. Ecotourism without benefiting the local orang asli should not be encouraged. Right now, the annoucement of this potential could wake up the state government of Kelantan...but would the orang asli be given jobs in this lucrative tourism? The establishment of this potential natural heritage will not benefit the local orang asli if political will is lacking. As expected, exploitation for economic benefit will see the orang asli being sidelined again.


Wednesday May 19, 2010

KOTA BARU: A 650ha site with many clusters of Rafflesia Kerrii has been found in Lojing Highlands, about 260km south of Kelantan.

The area has a potential to be a world heritage site but is threatened by encroaching development from neighbouring Cameron Highlands.

The site was discovered by a Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) research team headed by its senior lecturer Zulhazman Hamzah in 2008.

UMK vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Zainai Mohamed announ­ced the find at a two-day National Conference on Natural Resources here yesterday.

Dr Zainai said that with the discovery, the area could be developed for the agro-tourism industry, but it needed to be gazetted as a national and world treasure.

“Nowhere else in the world can we find clusters of such species and it should be gazetted as soon as possible to protect its natural habitat. Otherwise, development will destroy the area,” he said.

He also said more research would be done on the area, including the economic spin-off, natural habitat and potential conservation.

Zulhazman said after a two-year study of the area, he concluded that it has a vast tourism potential.

“I discovered 26 spots using the Geographic Information System. I have plotted three different sites – Kampung Cedau, Kampung Kuala Rengi and Kampung Gedik.

“All the Rafflesias were located outside the Lojing Highlands forest reserve and therefore it is vulnerable to development unless they are protected,” he said.

Rafflesia Kerrii is the second largest flower after Rafflesia Arnoldii.

He said serious efforts must be done to conserve the area that has no fewer than 260 pods scattered all over, adding that a working paper had been sent to the state government proposing that the area be gazetted but they have yet to receive any response.

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